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J Emerg Med. 2006 Nov;31(4):403-5.

Thoracic and lumbar spine radiographs for walking trauma patients--is it necessary?

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Department of Orthopaedic Rehabilitation, Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer 52621, Israel.


Numerous patients ambulating independently arrive in the Emergency Department complaining of back pain after being involved in a motor vehicle crash (MVC). We examined the yield of routine screening radiographs of the lumbar and thoracic spine in these patients. A retrospective review was carried out of the records of 3173 patients who were involved in a MVC during a 1-year period and presented to a single medical center. Radiographs of the lumbar spine, thoracic spine, or both were obtained in all patients complaining of back pain. Of 3173 ambulating MVC trauma patients, 35% (1110 patients) complained of thoracic or lumbar back pain. None of the lumbar and thoracic spine radiographs that were obtained in these patients was positive for a fracture or dislocation. The current study suggests that the yield of the routine use of spinal radiographs is very low in patients ambulating independently and complaining of back pain after a MVC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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